I don’t know about you, but I have an interest in words. Where a particular word comes from, its origin, the root of the word, for some reason fascinates me. So I did some research wanting to know why we call a book a book.
One Internet search claims that ‘book’ is derived from the Danish word for bog, and or beech tree. Keep in mind this was a search done some while ago and I do not have the exact information, but it was Danish. Being half Danish and a writer I was proud of the Danish connection to ‘book.’ I surfed the Internet trying to find that information recently, but nothing showing the Danish connection was found, instead it was those Germanic languages taking claim.
One site said ‘book’ came from “Old English boc “book, writing, written document,” traditionally from Proto-Germanic *bokiz “beech” (cf. German Buch “book” Buche “beech;” I see the word beech, a tree, connected to the Danish origin which I had previously found. But notice it is now Germanic. Like World War 2, the Danes once again are at the mercy of those Germanic invaders from the south.
I found another site which echoed the above origin, almost word for word. But as we all know-at least I think we do-the Internet is not that reliable, and one mistake will be repeated over and over. Example; in researching a theatre, I found every website said the theatre, built in 1930, cost $200,000. I believed it, but they were wrong. I uncovered the original document which said it cost $60,000.
Now I am not saying that the origin of the word ‘book’ being Germanic is wrong, but more research needs to be done. There does seem to be an agreement that early Indo-European writings were etched on beech wood. Thus beech evolved into book, probably because of the sound of the word for beech.
Danish is a northern Germanic language-so the Internet tells me-and so I will hold out that the origin of the word ‘book’ is traced back to my Danish ancestors. The weather in Denmark is dreary most of the year, and the Danes, like Hamlet-who was based on a real Danish prince-are melancholy, so I am sure the Danes began writing and reading on beech wood because there was no television or Internet, and they needed something to do. Which is why this half-Dane wrote this blog in the first place.